Just what kind of business is Southern Nevada Water Authority anyway?, It isn't quite a municipality, but it was formed from a group of municipalities. It isn't a corporation, but divisions of it might be someday. SNWA has a uniquely unusual mix of governmental power and exemption from public compliance. Are we witnessing a totally new form of business structure here? And why do I sometimes suspect SNWA doesn't really want us to understand how they function?
When asked, a representative of SNWA recently responded that they are a quasi-municipality. But, what does that really mean? And is that a good thing or bad?
If you are White Pine County, SNWA's business structure could mean a bad thing. Since SNWA is tax exempt, the recent purchases of private ranches in White Pine County will result in a reduction of tax revenue. SNWA is considering paying monies in lieu of taxes, but they don't have to. And you can be sure that; if SNWA does pay anything, there will be strings attached.
Of course, tax exempt ownership of ranches isn't a new thing in Nevada. The Mormon Church owns many properties, and doesn't pay taxes on any of them. Unlike SNWA, don't even bother to ask the Church to pay any money in lieu of taxes. They're likely promoting “faith based initiatives” – translation; your tax dollars for them. Religious organizations are draining government coffers in two ways, by not paying taxes and by using taxpayers' money. So, in this respect, SNWA could be a bigger burden.
As we all know, there are many people who feel that churches benefit the community enough that they shouldn't have to pay taxes. OK. I don't wish to argue that point. My point is; how does SNWA's tax exempt status help White Pine County? I would say not at all. Furthermore, is tax exemption a form of reverse taxation? Technically, I would think so. So, is this a form of taxation without representation? It sure looks like it.
Up until recently, whatever SNWA did wasn't of much a concern to White Pine County. Everything SNWA did, happened in Clark County. But things have changed. SNWA now wants the State of Nevada's water. SNWA now owns businesses in other counties, and doesn't have to pay taxes on them. SNWA is now acting like a state-wide quasi-governmental entity.
Herein lies the big question:
If SNWA is a quasi-municipality, that is tax exempt in White Pine County, shouldn't White Pine County have a say in the operation of SNWA? In fact, shouldn't every county effected by SNWA have at least one seat on the board of directors?